I initially wrote this and shared it with friends in early 2018 before I started my blog.
Yesterday I did the unthinkable. I broke down and signed up for a Netflix account. (I’m probably the last person in my age-group to hop on the bandwagon.)
I plan to watch movies and TV shows in Spanish, with English subtitles, and finally level up my Spanish proficiency.
Here are the 10 not-so-easy steps I followed to get Netflix’s App working on my phone:
1. I downloaded the App onto my phone and tried to sign up. Should be easy, right? But the App said my email address had an account associated with it. That’s technically true because I had an account 9 years ago, back in the tech stone-age when we received DVDs in the mail, and Grandma first joined Facebook. I guessed Netflix held on to my data after all these years. Maybe I should’ve felt grateful, but I was creeped out by this. You may leave Netflix, but they’ll never forget you, or your data.
2. I clicked on the forgot password link in the App and entered my email address. But I couldn’t find any emails from Netflix in my inbox. Or my spam folder. I drummed my fingers on my desk and wondered what to do next. After a couple of minutes, an email from Netflix appeared in the spam folder. But it looked suspicious because the subject line was in Portuguese.
3. I opened the email and was greeted with a few sentences, all in Portuguese, followed by a giant red button with Portuguese words on it. I assumed that it was a button to reset my password. But nothing happened when I clicked on it. I marked the email as not spam, moved it to my inbox, but the button still didn’t work. OK, so now what?
4. I went back to the App and tried to reset my password by entering my phone number. But Netflix had no record of it. Maybe the universe was sending me a message by blocking all my attempts to give Netflix money. But I’m hardheaded and stubborn; I seldom hear what the universe is saying.
5. In an act of desperation, I tried the password reset path again. I received a 2nd email, all in Portuguese. This time the big red button was clickable and took me to a page where I successfully reset my password! I did a tiny victory dance in my office chair.
6. I went back to the App, crossed my fingers, logged in with my new password, and I was finally in! The whole experience was painful, but I persevered and began humming the chorus of We are the champions. I imagined that everything would be smooth sailing going forward. But I was wrong.
7. My mind took a moment to register that the App displayed everything in Portuguese. Every button, menu item, and description. My humming abruptly stopped, and I was ready to punch my phone. I vowed that Netflix would use English to communicate with me! I searched the App to figure out where it stored language settings, but to no avail.
8. I opened my phone’s web browser and searched for how to change the language settings in Netflix. The top search result was a page that looked like it had what I needed. Best of all, the search result was in English! But when I clicked the link and the page was loaded, it was automatically translated into Portuguese. Stunned, I wondered if I was in an episode of Candid Camera, and at any moment, someone would jump out and explain that it was all a prank. (It turns out that page was part of Netflix’s website, and Netflix really wants me to learn Portuguese.)
9. I logged into Netflix’s website with my phone’s browser, fumbled through numerous settings, and accidentally logged myself out, twice. (I now know the word for Logout in Portuguese!) I eventually found the language controls, selected English, and everything magically turned it into something I could understand.
10. I opened the App, and most of the controls had changed into English, but not all. Even now, 24 hours later, random icons and buttons are still in Portuguese. But that’s OK since I have now memorized those Portuguese words. Thanks, Netflix.
Portuguese has long been on my list of languages to learn, but after this experience, it’s at the bottom of the list, right after West Greenlandic Pidgin.
P.S. Some of you will correctly point out that Spanish and Portuguese have tremendous overlap and share numerous cognates. One might think that I, with my two years of high-school Spanish, would be able to use my knowledge to decipher Portuguese words and phrases. But alas, all those grammar drills and verb conjugation quizzes did little to prepare me to use Spanish outside of an academic setting.